Marriott International said Sunday it has been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department to operate hotels in Cuba.
The largest U.S. hotel company is planning to operate Marriott-branded properties in Cuba as well as “providing hospitality training for Cuban nationals,” the company said in a statement. Marriott is “in discussions to develop a hospitality relationship with potential partners,” though no specific projects or properties were mentioned.
Marriott’s statement followed a similar announcement a day earlier by Starwood Hotels & Resorts that it had received Treasury Department approval to rebrand at least two Cuba hotels by the end of the year and would become the first U.S. hospitality company to operate hotels in Cuba in almost six decades.
“We are gratified to receive permission from the U.S. government to pursue business opportunities in Cuba,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said in Sunday’s statement. “While there is still work to do before any agreement is reached, we are actively pursuing relationships in the hospitality sector."
Sorenson made the announcement while in Cuba as part of a U.S. delegation that includes President Obama.
Last week, the Obama administration began allowing Americans to make "individual people-to-people educational” trips to the island, without having to travel with an authorized people-to-people group.
Starwood said Saturday that it had received approval to make Havana’s 83-room Hotel Inglaterra part of the Starwood Luxury Collection and reflag the city’s 186-room Hotel Quinta Avenida under Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton brand, with both hotels slated for renovations. Starwood also has a letter of intent with Habaguane, owner of the 27-room Hotel Santa Isabel, for that hotel to also become part of the Luxury Collection, though that agreement still needs to be approved by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Marriott in November reached an agreement to acquire Starwood, though Starwood said Friday that it would accept a higher bid from a group led by China-based Anbang Insurance Group. Marriott has until March 28 to make a counter-offer.